The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “direct the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, and the acting Accountant General of the Federation, Sylva Okolieaboh, to immediately reverse the apparently illegal deductions from the salaries of members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for October 2022.”
Additionally, SERAP is pleading with him to “order Mr. Ngige and Mr. Okolieaboh to pay ASUU members full salary for the period of their strike action.”
ASUU members reportedly received half-salaries from the federal government for the month of October 2022. According to reports, several academics were paid between N71,000 and N121,000 for the month of October.
“Paying half salaries to ASUU members solely for exercising their human rights is patently unlawful and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and international standards,” the organization claimed in an open letter dated 5 November 2022 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare.
The claimed salary deductions from ASUU members also constitute punishment for exercising their right to strike, according to SERAP.
The letter stated, in part, “The deductions are unlawful and excessive. The deductions could also be seen as a calculated effort to deny ASUU its right to strike and render it ineligible for further action.
“The right to strike implies the right of workers not to be punished for striking. ASUU members do not therefore forfeit their salaries because they exercise their right to strike.”
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our requests in the public interest.”
“Illegal deductions from the salaries of ASUU members may also violate the right to work, and to respect of the dignity inherent in a human being.”
“Paying ASUU members or any workers half salaries solely for lawfully and peacefully exercising their right to strike constitutes an impermissible restriction on the right to freedom of association including the right to strike, which is an essential element in the principle of collective bargaining.”